This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. These ten verses of Luke 17 challenge Christians (a) not to be a hindrance to the discipleship of others, (b) to rebuke those who sin and forgive all who ask for forgiveness, and (c) and when you have done all this not to assume that you have done more than your duty. These ten verses are a reminder that faithfulness, forgiveness and humility are required of those who would be obedient to the Word of Jesus. Perhaps the first two are the most difficult to live, but the lack of humility is perhaps the more dangerous. It prevents us from experiencing the depth of God’s love and likely leads to a superior attitude and false spirituality that becomes an obstacle to the little ones and a barrier to being charitable in our forgiveness. Such a pitfall makes clear why St. Bonaventure wrote that humility is the guardian and gateway to all the other virtues.
Image credit: G Corrigan, CC-BY-NC 2.0
This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of faith and what Jesus was asking of his disciples: understanding that faith allows God to work in a person’s life in ways that defy ordinary human experience. In today’s post we consider what that right understanding of faith will allow the disciples to do. Continue reading →
This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the necessity of forgiveness in the life of a disciple. Today we move into the Sunday gospel reading proper and consider why the apostles make the request: “Increase our faith”? Continue reading →
This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of sin and the consequences of leading others into sin. Again we consider the opening verse of Luke 17: 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” Continue reading →
This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we looked at the ongoing context for Luke’s narrative. Today, although occurring just before the Sunday gospel reading, we will consider the opening verses of Luke 17: 1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Continue reading →
This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Lectionary Cycle C. Throughout the previous chapter (Luke 16), Jesus has addressed the Pharisees and scribes (scholars of the law) with beginning and ending parables: the dishonest steward and the rich man and Lazarus – each begins with a statement, “There was a rich man.” The clear target were the lovers of money, i.e., those whose love of riches prevented them from truly being lovers of God. Although the parable is aimed at the Pharisees the lesson continues a theme of 12:1 “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.” The disciples are reminded of the characteristics of true discipleship and the pitfalls along the way. Continue reading →
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast..” (Mt 13). There is much debate over the meaning of these two short parables. For a more traditional understanding, consider this post.
But some Christians believe that the imagery of the parables is meant to portray the presence of evil within professing Christendom. This is due primarily to an understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven as a “mystery” encompassing Christendom (understood as organized Christianity). Christendom as a whole is understood to contain evil elements mixed with the good, so both parables are usually viewed as picturing that evil. The birds nesting in the mustard tree are unbelievers. It is also pointed out that yeast is often a symbol of evil (Exod 12:15, 19; Matt 16:6, 11–12; 1 Cor 5:6–8; Gal 5:9; but see Lev 7:13–14; 23:17) and so it is asserted that the parable of the yeast portrays the growth of evil within Christendom. This view of the parables is often held in conscious opposition to a view which understands the images of the growth of the Kingdom in the two parables as indicating the ultimate conversion of the world to Christianity before Christ returns. Continue reading →
The year was 1957. The “space-age” began when the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite into earth orbit. The same year General Motors produced the classic “57 Chevy” – more properly known as the Bel-Aire. It could be yours for $2,400. The price of a new home averages between $12,000 and $20,000. You could rent a home for around $100/month. A week’s worth of groceries was under $20. Gasoline was about $0.24/gallon. A pack of cigarettes cost… well, that doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t be buying cigarettes anway. A top-named TV star was Roy Rogers (the cowboy, not the restaurant). Gunsmoke and Perry Mason were top-rated TV shows. Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Kim Novak, Marilyn Monroe, James Stewart – to name a few – were the top stars in Hollywood. And here was the menu at McDonald’s: hamburgers: $0.15 ($0.19 for a cheeseburger) with french fries and drinks, $0.10 each. The year was 1957 and St. Francis of Assisi parish was founded in Triangle, VA.
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So where was I….? As noted in an earlier post, today’s gospel includes the Markan version of the parable of the mustard seed: 30 He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. 32 But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
I wondered if there were any OT references to birds taking shelter in the shade of a plant or a tree. Two came to mind. Continue reading →
Today’s gospel includes the Markan version of the parable of the mustard seed: 30 He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. 32 But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” I think it is one of those parables to which western Christians give “the holy nod.” That is an expression I apply to all the times we nod knowingly at the presentation of some matter of Scripture or faith, nodding our agreement, when inwardly we are thinking, “What? Oh well, Jesus said it, I believe it and it must be good.”
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